Berkeley Alpha DAC vs Theta Gen VIII and stuff...

More ramblings of a madman...

So my search for the preamp has lead me here. Thanks to all who posted in my thread about the Spectral pre but i think i have narrowed it down to an odd pair, the 2 Dacs in the title. This arose from a long phone conversation yesterday with the guy who sort of mentored me in this whole audio mess. I had bounced the idea of the Spectral DMC 30SL i was ready to buy off of him and we had gone round and round about the options. A friend of his has some similar gear, WP's and the like, and had had that Spectral as well as the 30SS + the Spectral CD/DAC. He had also been searching for the right fit and came across the Berkeley Alpha Dac. His comments are strong but they mirror what Robert Harley stated in his TAS article, the BAD is better than the Spectral System...the DAC and the Pre...he has replaced all that Spectral gear with the BAD run directly to his amp. WOW! I am in. But...I must complicate this...If i am going to go the DAC/Pre combo route I might as well include the one I personally have always lusted after...the Theta Generation VIII. now I have narrowed this down to the final 2, this is great progress. Help me drive this home fella's...

Has anyone compared these 2 fine devices? Anyone have experience with both that may help me close the door? It is not realistic to get them both here to do a listen, that is out. Gotta go on my gut and some input from the forum.

I suppose my first thought is the newer BAD is a better option given the progress in digital these days as well as the higher rez but the Theta is a classic sweet DAC which has been among the finest available for some time. It is also Theta, A company that seems to be a shell of itself since ATI got involved. Hmmmmm.

Whichever i chose will still be a challenge as neither has a solution for ht pass through. I will need to find some sort of switch at the amp or just change cables when I watch TV/Movies.

So this is where I stand. Input on these 2 devices, experience or comparison, greatly appreciated...

Rest of the system (for now!):

Krell FPB 600c
Wilson WP 7's
Logitech Transporter (will be the only source acting as tranport only)
MIT MH850 speaker cables
MIT MI350 CVT Proline Reference interconnects
MIT Oracle AC1 power cords
MIT ZStabalizerIII HG conditioner/filter/surge

HT stuff to pass through some how...

My home theater will pass through.
The GEN VIII v/2 is a huge upgrade from the first one. It sounds more musical and involving. The thing with the BADA it does high res!
I use the Gen8V2 with my Transporter and love the combo. I had a Modwright Transporter and sold it.

I set one of the inputs on the Gen8 to Fixed Volume and it works perfectly for my home theater.

The Theta Gen8V2 is a first rate DAC/linestage that can be compared with the best out there. It has been super reliable with no problems whatsoever. Built quality is amazing. Make sure you use "Reclock" instead of "Jitter Jail" for high quality sources.

Worldcat- the Gen8V2 is ready for high resolution files they just need to change the receiver chip which I think will happen at some point.

Jason Victor Serinus reviewed the Gen8V2 at Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity and compared it to the BADA and Weiss Medea.
Jason did review it but never really gave a clear conclusion of what he liked best. What do you mean by using Reclock for high quality sources??
You won't regret the decision to buy the Alpha. It's a great piece of gear. I'll offer up one slight - and certainly controversial - issue.

> ...directly to my krell fpb600c and use the volume control in the dac. this seems to be the way it sounds best according to all i have read.

I have tried running the output from the Alpha both directly into my amp (Atma-Sphere S-30 Mk III) and through my preamp (The Messenger). I noticed a small collapse of the soundstage when driving the amp directly. As my tastes are heavily biased towards excellent reproduction of same, I prefer the preamp route, and in any event I need said preamp for vinyl. Please don't misunderstand. The sound is slightly more immediate and forward with 'direct drive', and I understand exactly why some might prefer it. It's definitely a matter of taste.

In any event,congratulations on your choice. Happy listening!

worldcat...i do not have the generation8 but was looking at it as an option before i chose the bada. i would love to hear your thoughts on the comparison when you get yours. thanks for the comments.

fsarc...nice to know that you are able to integrate your theta using fixed volume. i will remember that as an option in the future. i don't know if that would work on the bada but will see. appreciate the post and the link to the review.

mike...glad to hear you are so pleased with the alpha dac and hope i feel the same. i think this is going to be a long few weeks! it does not surprise me that the preamp removes some of the forwardness, i have read others who have this preference as well. i guess i will have to see how it sounds and am hoping i will be pleased enough direct to the amp. thanks for the well wishes!!